‘Green Book’ writer apologizes for anti-Muslim 9/11 tweet

Nick Vallelonga (far right) apologized to Mahershala Ali (center). (File photo: AFP)
Updated 12 January 2019
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‘Green Book’ writer apologizes for anti-Muslim 9/11 tweet

LOS ANGELES: “Green Book” screenwriter Nick Vallelonga has issued an apology for an anti-Muslim tweet from 2015 in which he expressed support for false claims that Muslims were celebrating in New Jersey following the 9/11 terror attacks.
“I want to apologize. I spent my life trying to bring this story of overcoming differences and finding common ground to the screen, and I am incredibly sorry to everyone associated with Green Book,” he said in a statement late Thursday.
“I especially deeply apologize to the brilliant and kind Mahershala Ali, and all members of the Muslim faith, for the hurt I have caused,” he said.
“I am also sorry to my late father who changed so much from Dr. Shirley’s friendship and I promise this lesson is not lost on me. ‘Green Book’ is a story about love, acceptance and overcoming barriers, and I will do better.”
Ali, who is Muslim, on Sunday won a Golden Globe award for his role as the real-life piano virtuoso Don Shirley in “Green Book.”
The film, which picked up two other Golden Globes and is expected to be nominated for the Oscars, recounts the unlikely friendship between Shirley, who was black, and his driver, Tony Lip (Vallelonga’s father), during a concert tour through the deep south in 1962.
Vallelonga deleted his Twitter account after the controversial tweet dating back to November 2015 recently resurfaced on social media.
The tweet came in response to then candidate Donald Trump’s claim that he saw thousands of people cheering in Jersey City after the terror attacks.
“@realDonaldTrump 100% correct,” Vallelonga wrote at the time. “Muslims in Jersey City cheering when towers went down. I saw it, as you did, possibly on local CBS news.”
Participant Media, which co-financed and produced “Green Book,” has also released a statement denouncing Vallelonga’s tweet.
“We find Mr.Vallelonga’s Twitter post offensive, dangerous and antithetical to Participant Media’s values. We reject it in no uncertain terms,” it said.


Iraqi museum unveils ‘looted’ artefacts

Updated 20 March 2019
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Iraqi museum unveils ‘looted’ artefacts

  • Basra is the most oil-rich province in Iraq but its heritage sites have long been neglected
  • US says it has repatriated more than 3,000 stolen artefacts to Iraq since 2005

BASRA, Iraq: Over 2,000 artefacts, including about 100 that were looted and found abroad, were unveiled Tuesday in a museum in Basra province on the southern tip of Iraq, authorities said.
Basra is the most oil-rich province in Iraq but its heritage sites have long been neglected.
On Tuesday between 2,000 and 2,500 pieces went on display in the Basra Museum, the second largest in Iraq, said Qahtan Al-Obeid, head of archaeology and heritage in the province.
“They date from 6000 BC to 1500 AD,” he told AFP, referring to the Assyrian, Babylonian and Sumerian periods.
Obeid said about 100 artefacts — most of which came from Jordan and the United States — were given back to Iraq to be displayed in the museum, a former palace of deposed dictator Saddam Hussein.
The heritage of Iraq, most of which was former Mesopotamia, has paid a heavy price due to the wars that have ravaged the country for nearly four decades.
Following the US-led invasion that overthrew Saddam in 2003, Daesh group militants destroyed many of the country’s ancient statues and pre-Islamic treasures.
During its occupation of nearly a third of Iraq between 2014 and 2017, Daesh captured much attention by posting videos of its militants destroying statues and heritage sites with sledgehammers and pneumatic drills on the grounds that they are idolatrous.
But experts say they mostly destroyed pieces too large to smuggle and sell off, and kept the smaller pieces, several of which are already resurfacing on the black market in the West.
The United States says it has repatriated more than 3,000 stolen artefacts to Iraq since 2005, including many seized in conflict zones in the Middle East.